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Saakashvili Defends President's Role in New Constitution
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 4 Sep.'10 / 12:22

President Saakashvili said on September 3, that he was against of further weakening president's powers in the proposed new constitutional model as recommended by Council of Europe's advisory body, Venice Commission.

Speaking at a meeting with lawmakers from his ruling National Movement party, Saakashvili said: "I categorically disagree with the Venice Commission - which in overall likes the new draft - to weaken the President and equal this post to the one that is in many European countries, for example Presidents of Italy or Germany, where the Presidents have symbolic role."

"Georgia faces difficult challenges and there should be a strong President in Georgia... We should understand that without a strong President, especially in the crisis situations, it will be difficult to rule Georgia. So in this regard we can not accept European experts' recommendations fully," he said.

The new model, he said, guarantees that "power will no longer be concentrated in any single center". "A collective government will be established," Saakashvili said.

In the new model President's powers will be significantly reduced and transfered to the government and PM. However, as the Venice Commission said in its opinion on the proposed draft of constitutional amendments, the President still “retains important powers”, including in the field of the international relations, the armed forces and the situations of emergency, as well as in a situation when government faces vote of no confidence.

The Commission warned that there was a risk of possible scenario, when President could come in conflicts with the other institutions – a scenario “which is enhanced by the fact that the President is directly elected.”

“The government may be the expression of a parliamentary majority different from that which supported the election of the President, with parliamentary elections occurring every four years while presidential elections every five years.”

“In addition, and importantly, the President plays a political role, which is not coherent with the role of impartial guarantor of the continuity of the constitutional order of the State and of its unity,” the Commission said.

President Saakashvili also said on September 3, that he was not intending to call a referendum seeking for voters' consent to run for presidency for the third term. Saakashvili's second and final term in office expires in 2013.

"According to all the public opinion polls this [to secure voters' support in referendum to run for re-election] is easy to do in Georgia, but I am categorically stating that we should not do that," he said.

He again denied allegations that the new constitution would be modeled on personalities.

"It is often said that it is an attempt to model the constitution on personalities; a term 'Putinization' has also been used. There is no need to reform the constitution for Putinization, as on paper Putin has no powers - according to the Russian constitution PM has no much powers," Saakashvili said.

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